Save Money Without Willpower

August 22, 2008 at 3:54 pm (Happiness, Money, Tips)

There was a time when money in my pocket was never safe. Young and restless, I would drive all over the place, my wallet purging at small impulse buys that added up fast. In two hours, I could lose $40 to Starbucks drinks, Taco Bell, and random trips to Wal-Mart. I would go in, intending to buy maybe $10 worth of food and come out with 50 dollars’ worth of stuff. I hated having my money slip through my fingers so easily.

I tried countless times to refrain from spending money but it was always a strain. I wanted to spend money on new art supplies or books or TV boxsets or cute little finds at the thrift store (surprisingly, I never blew money on clothes). I eventually read ThinkSimpleNow’s article on the hidden side of what you own and it hit me at last that I was becoming extremely materialistic. I had always thought of materialistic types as those who aspire to gobble up money and indulge in Porsches and mansions but my little $5 purchases were still things. And it hit me that I didn’t need 70% of that stuff.

Trying to allieve myself of materialism made saving money a whole lot easier. Of course, this realization comes to people at different point sin their life; that article outlined my hudden reasons for buying stuff so specifically that it just made sense to me. I understand that saving money can still be difficult to do.

If a rock in placed in front of you, don’t try to climb over it: just walk around.

I’ve found three tips to save money without having to battle temptation. It takes a couple of days to implement them but over the past two months, they’ve saved me literally hundreds of dollars:

  1. Stay at home. Obviously, if you’re not out, you won’t be around temptation. Examine the stuff you already have and stay at home to use them. That bath collection you bought a week ago? Pamper yourself for a day. The unread books on your bookshelf? Curl up and get lost in them. Right now, I’m wanting to go out and buy scrapbooking papers for a couple of projects but I’m telling myself to stay at home and use the papers I already have. 😉
  2. Lock your card up. I literally lock my debit card up in a lockbox when I go out. Darling has adopted the same tip and he’s found himself saving so much money already. We try to buy something and then think, “Damn it, I don’t have my card…” Couple hours later, we realize that we probably didn’t need it after all. Out of sight, out of mind.
  3. Bring snacks with you. I think the biggest money drain throughout the day is probably food. Keep a small bag in your purse or car with pretzels, nuts, popcorn, dried fruit, etc. Keep a bottle of water on you too!

I’ve also found ways to save money if you are out and about, particularly if you’re hanging out with a friend.

  • If you’re going out to coffee, buy yourself tea. At Starbucks, I choose either an ice tea (with Sweet and Low) or an iced tea lemonade. It’s healthier and cheaper. ^_^
  • At restaurants, opt to split an entree and share an appetizer. Restaurant portions are huge! Darling and I split a Chinese dish last week and we couldn’t even finish it.
  • If you’re going to be at a store, make sure you don’t bring your card with you! Just carry cash if you must bring money. Take note of clothes you are interested in and give yourself time to think about it. Do you really need those jeans? Will that shirt match with any other shirt you have? Is there an inexpensive place to buy something similar?

It’s not just about saving money. Striving to become less materialistic in general has brought me peace and clarity of mind. I also suddenly free up time to engage in my more creative hobbies too! ^-^


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Make An “I Feel Lucky Because…”

August 20, 2008 at 9:02 pm (Happiness)

photo by Merlijn Hoek via flickr

photo by Merlijn Hoek via flickr

All of us need to bitch about life some time. Family drama, relationship conflicts, hectic work demands, academic worries, financial troubles catch us at some point. Sometimes, it can be depressing and dismal.

They may even keep us down for months.

It’s damn difficult to think of anything at first in times like these but keeping a list of reasons why you are lucky, even if the things on it are arbitrary, can help lift your spirits and motivate you to go on. Everyone has problems of their own, no matter how rich or pretty or so-in-love they are. We wish for their fortune, we envy it, and we assume that if only we could have or be X, we would be happy and life would be perfect.

Could there be something about you people may envy?

Realizing your fortunes does not mean ignoring your troubles and being blindly optimistic. It’s motivating. It points out your advantages. It points out your resources. It points out your past achievements. You’ll pulled through bad times before, you can do it again.

Here’s my list:

  1. I’m lucky to be in school. If I wasn’t, I would be wasting time. I would be stuck in a crappy, tedious wage job. I wouldn’t be able to visualize some of my dreams for darling and myself. I would be closing off my options for the future.
  2. I’m lucky to have found my soulmate early in life. I used to not believe in soulmates, but fortunate compatibility. I’m lucky to have been proven wrong and to be proven wrong so early. I see people so much older than me still trying to find “true love.” :{
  3. I’m lucky to have been born in America. I was only a generation away from being raised in a third world, Communist country. America’s an imperfect country but it’s riddled with opportunity. I also understand the magnitude of trouble my parents went through to have me here.
  4. I’m lucky to be an artist. I dissect the world into forms and colors and notice things most people do not. It also cultivated a creative mind now nowadays, finds way to meet new people, make money, save money, and remake things.
  5. I’m lucky to have grown up so close to my siblings. Many people never get to enjoy the sort of close bond I’ve had with my brother and sister throughout my life. They make me laugh and color my favorite memories.
  6. I’m lucky to have parents who came from another culture. Okay, okay, it’s a double-edged sword. It’s definitely not all fun and soy sauce. It was hard and demanding growing up between two cultures but it also let me understand different ways of thinking.
  7. I’m lucky to have had friends who were my second family. They filled my years with adventure and were always there for me as my emotional safety net.
  8. I’m lucky to be young. I can still easily fix my mistakes, instill certain habits in myself, have the energy to maintain my health, have the time to decide my passions and plans, and the freedom to do stupid, fun college kid things. 🙂
  9. I’m lucky to be a geek. I love learning and that love of learning definitely works in my favor in the real world. 😉 having a wide cast of interests makes me hard for me to decide on a major but it also opens up a lot of options. I love anime it’s brought me to so many new friends, so much opportunity, and so many eclectic quirks. 😉
  10. I’m lucky to have had a crappy social life in middle school and early high school. It sure wasn’t fun back then but it makes me appreciate people and realize that it’s important to reach out to others.

So why are you lucky? 🙂

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